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For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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October 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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An Important Change for Our Print Subscribers

from the October, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Fellow Subscriber:

I published the first issue of Undercurrent in August 1975. It was after my girlfriend and I had flown to Jamaica for a dive trip because we had read a glowing story in SkinDiver Magazine. But the “dive hotel” was empty of divers. Meals arrived an hour after we ordered them. The reef was uninteresting and it was barren of fish. Only afterwards did I realize the story was driven by advertisements: buy a full-page advertisement and SkinDiver will write kindly of you. I decided divers needed the truth. Thankfully, SkinDiver let me use its mailing list (publisher Paul Tzimoulis, trapped in the Skin Diver business model, was happy to help us). My first story was titled Red Stripe and Reggae Beat the Diving.

Since then, the Undercurrent formula hasn’t changed much. We added an online presence more than a decade ago. While print subscribers have been able to get their issue online as well, many subscribers only get each Undercurrent issue online. They print out the issue or read it online, and store them for future reference. The format is the same as the printed issue – and online subscribers never worry about the USPS ripping pages, delivering the issue late. . .or not at all.

And now, we’re going to ask that all Undercurrent subscribers accept their issues online If you’re of my generation, you may balk at reading any publication online, but you’ll be able to print it out and read it at your leisure, while storing it on your computer for future reference.

As you’re well aware, the periodical print industry has changed dramatically. The very changes that affect newspapers and magazines affect Undercurrent. Paper prices have increased; we print on recycled paper and, oddly, it costs more than original paper. Postage has increased Printing and mailing Undercurrent runs more $6000 a month, a cost we must reduce and eventually eliminate.

Still, you don’t see any advertising in the pages of Undercurrent. We live off subscriber income. But our subscription rates have remained virtually the same since 1991. And now, with fewer new divers entering the sport, and more aging divers hanging up their fins, there’s a lot less dive travel. Our subscription base is slipping as well.

All this has led to my decision to offer Undercurrent only as an online publication. Undercurrent is a nonprofit organization, so we’re not talking about squeezed profits. We’re talking about having income to meet expenses. We’re talking about having the income to continue publishing publishing the factual, no-holds-barred information you have come to appreciate.

You get the unvarnished truth because subscription income allows me to write that truth. In my years of publishing, I can honestly say I have never taken as much as a single free dive or free meal from anyone in the dive industry. Except from Bret Gilliam, who has bought me three meals and not allowed me to reciprocate. But those came 20 years after I reviewed his St. Croix dive operation; he didn’t know who had reviewed his operation until I introduced myself. Besides, I’m not sure anyone with a black AMEX card needs reciprocation.

What this means practically is that if we have your email address, you will receive an email in early January saying your January issue is ready. “Click here to read it, download or print your issue. ” It will look just like this issue, but you’ll have to punch your own holes unless you print it out on punched paper.

For anyone for whom we don’t have an email address, we ask that you go to Undercurrent, click on Log In, and register your email address. Your cooperation will help keep Undercurrent alive and kicking.

We know that some subscribers, believe it or not, don’t use computers. If you’re one, we will mail you an issue for a few more months, but we do hope you can provide us an email address. For everyone else, we will deliver our issue online.

Of course, the 2010 Travelin Diver’s Chapbook will still be mailed to you in December, as long as your subscription is current. It’s at the printer now and, as usual, it’s chock-full of solid information, the good and the bad, money saving tips, guides to seek out, guides to avoid ... all the great information you have come to depend upon.

In the meantime, thanks for your understanding and support. We exist only because of loyal divers like you.

PS: I did think about pitching this change as “Undercurrent is Going Green,” but that’s what every publication that goes online says. Besides, it’s not the primary reason for the change and I want to be truthful. Regardless, a lot of people will read it on their computer, so paper will be conserved.

So, thanks again for your support. If you have never logged into our website, Undercurrent, please do so now. Just go to the website, click the Log In banner, and follow the instructions.

– Ben Davison, Founder, Publisher, Editor

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